Place 1 cup chestnuts on a baking sheet; bake at 375° for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Place 1/2 cup crushed chestnuts on a baking sheet; bake at 375° for 5 minutes or until golden brown. Set aside.
Combine toasted whole chestnuts and milk in a blender; process until smooth. Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add chestnut mixture, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to pan; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring occasionally. Keep warm.
Combine juice, vinegar, and olive oil in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle scallops with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add scallops, working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding; cook 3 minutes or until browned on both sides and done, turning once. Pour off any oil. Reduce heat to medium. Add butter; cook 2 minutes or until browned. Stir in thyme.
Place 5 tablespoons puree on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 4 scallops. Drizzle each with 1 1/2 teaspoons butter mixture and 1 tablespoon juice mixture. Top each with 2 tablespoons toasted crushed chestnuts.
I made this recipe as a treat to myself for my birthday and it really delivered. Fancy enough to be in a restaurant, but simple to make! For step-by-step photos, visit: http://www.icancookthat.org/2015/12/seared-scallops-with-chestnut-puree.html
Air-dried Stonington scallops in the fridge for several hours, turning once. Then made exactly to directions and got "oh-wows" at the table. Only flaw in the recipe is that you need some color garnish on the plate. Served with pear-walnut salad & steamed asparagus. Easy and excellent.
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